Information for Students

The clinic is run by Cornell students under the direction of Prof. Malte Ziewitz. It is organized as a 4-credit seminar under the course code STS 4040, and enrollment is by application only. The clinic will start operating in the spring semester of 2020 and meet on Fridays, 10.10-12.35pm in the clinic office, Room 407 in Morrill Hall.

Students should submit an application, including a resume, a short statement of intent, and an (informal) transcript using the online form below. There will be no interview. Admission is competitive. This year, we are planning to recruit a group of 6-7 students. Applications for the 2021 cohort will open in the fall of 2020.

Course format

Clinical programs have a long tradition in legal education, especially in North American law schools. As a method of practical teaching, clinics provide hands-on professional experience to students and pro bono services to individual clients or constituencies. The multidisciplinary Due Process Clinic is not a legal one, but follows the same idea. Student members engage in research and advocacy on behalf of those who could not otherwise afford them.

Project focus

The clinic takes on a different project every year. In the spring semester 2020, our goal is to understand and document the lived experience of people who feel misrepresented in web search results. How do local business people, activists, and individuals struggle over visibility in search results? What problems do they face? What kind of recourse do they have when things go wrong?

Answering these questions will involve arranging and conducting interviews with people in the Ithaca area; writing up your findings to map and document these stories; and making them available to a broader public. You will receive extensive training in research ethics, qualitative research methods, and the responsible presentation of data.

Time commitment

Expect a workload that is comparable to a four-credit seminar or independent study. Our regular meeting time is 10.10-12.25pm on Fridays, but you are free to work in our space throughout the semester. We expect to bundle much of the training and instructions in the first few weeks to leave ample time for you to work on your cases and be done before the exam period. Please note that the clinic will require a bit more flexibility than other classes. For example, you might have to accommodate the schedule of an interview partner or occasionally meet outside our scheduled time.


Any Cornell undergraduate student who is at least in their second year of study (i.e. sophomores, juniors, and seniors) can apply. In terms of backgrounds, we are looking for a mix of people with different life experiences and skills. Engineering, history, computer science, STS, communication, ILR, or comparative literature – whatever your major, you will most likely have something to contribute. Make clear in your application what that ‘something’ is, and how you will bring it to bear on the project. Applicants should be excited to work with people unlike themselves, be able to listen carefully, and to write collaboratively for a broader audience.

*requires Cornell account

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there no course prerequisites?

Since we are aiming for a mix of different skills and experiences, it is impossible to name prerequisites that equally apply to every applicant. A strong application emphasizes the specific contribution you can make, which may or may not involve prior coursework.

Who are the clients?

In our first year of operation, we will not yet have clients in the conventional sense. Rather, our goal will be to understand and map the kinds of problems people have. These lived experiences will serve as a foundation for more specific client work in the future.

Will we have an office?

Yes. The clinic will be based in Room 407 in Morrill Hall. It is not huge, but should provide enough space to work and meet. You will have access to this room at any time during the semester.

Is there a syllabus?

The syllabus is being developed as we speak (or read!). It will look different from other lecture-based classes in that it is focused on a specific project. In that sense, it will be a mix of learning basic research skills (such ethics and interview training), understanding the problem (such as reading and discussing scholarly articles), and hands-on project work (e.g. collecting and representing data).

How will my work be graded?

Over the course of the semester, you will prepare a couple of research briefings for the group. You will also be asked to keep a simple research diary, in which you will record your activities and experiences.

What if I have further questions?

If you have further questions about the clinic, you may direct them to Prof. Malte Ziewitz.

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